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"C" is for Charleston Riot (1919)

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  "C" is for Charleston Riot (1919). This riot was the earliest major incident in a nationwide outbreak of racial violence that came to be known as the “Red Summer.” Race riots erupted in two dozen American communities between April and October. The trouble began on May 11th with rumors that a black man had shot a white sailor. White servicemen, accompanied by local whites, began destroying black businesses and attacking black passersby. Black Charlestonians defended themselves. By the time that hostilities had ceased, three African Americans were dead and seventeen wounded; seven white sailors were severely injured. The newly formed Charleston branch of the NAACP asked the mayor for protection against future mobs, the formation of an interracial committee, and the hiring of black policemen. In the aftermath of the Charleston Riot of 1919, Charleston’s mayor agreed to all of the NAACP’s requests except hiring black policemen.


Dr. Walter Edgar has two programs on South Carolina Public Radio: Walter Edgar's Journal, and South Carolina from A to Z. Dr. Edgar receivedhisA.B.degreefromDavidson College in 1965 and his Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina in 1969. After two years in the army (including a tour of duty in Vietnam), he returned to USC as a post-doctoral fellow of the National Archives, assigned to the Papers of Henry Laurens.